The inaction over a Ruben Neves exit from Wolves played a part in Fulham being on the cusp of hijacking their Joao Palhinha transfer, claims a report.
The Sporting Lisbon midfielder, 26, had long been touted with a move to the Premier League this summer. Palhinha operates primarily in central midfield and his stellar displays at club level have seen him earn 14 caps for Portugal over the last 18 months.
He had been scouted by Manchester United earlier in the year, though their attentions shifted to Frenkie de Jong.
That left the door ajar for Wolves to pounce. The tale of a Portuguese star agented by Jorge Mendes joining Wolves is a familiar one.
Wolves had begun to mobilise in their efforts to land Palhinha. He had been earmarked as the ideal successor to the exit-linked Ruben Neves.
However, interest from the likes of Man Utd and Arsenal in Neves has not resulted in any concrete offers. According to the Sun, that inaction put Wolves’ move for Palhinha on the backburner.
News on that front went cold over the next 10 days, though the Sun now state Palhinha is poised to join Fulham in the next 72 hours.
The player will return home from a holiday today (Monday) and reportedly head straight to west London to wrap up a five-year deal.
Marco Silva helps sway Joao Palhinha
Wolves were confident they’d land the midfielder for around £20m. Fulham have reportedly struck an agreement for less than that amount, and manager Marco Silva player a major part in their coup.
Silva reportedly spoke directly with Palhinha over the phone and clearly made a big impression. Sporting left the decision on where to go up to Palhinha, and he’s seemingly chosen Fulham.
The report claims the deal has been struck at the £17m mark, slightly above Romano’s reported figure from 10 days ago.
What this means for Ruben Neves
Missing out on Palhinha may strengthen Wolves’ desire to retain Ruben Neves for one more year.
The Portuguese ace has two years left at Molineux, meaning they could reignite efforts to make a sale next summer.
That is a riskier strategy given the noises coming from Wolves are that he won’t sign a new deal. As such, they’d be running the risk of Neves refusing to move so he can have his pick of clubs as a free agent a year later.
The main barrier to a sale this summer, per the Sun, is Wolves’ £50m valuation.